Personne ne s'attend à ce que vous soyez un expert

I don't see what the 'ce que' is doing here and how removing it would change the meaning?

  • 1
    Related french.stackexchange.com/questions/1678/…
    – lemon
    Sep 20, 2017 at 14:07
  • Not really related actually, as the two expression are really different Sep 20, 2017 at 14:44
  • Yeah that is not related, its obvious what the purpose of 'ce que' is in his examples. If anyone else wants to post an answer explaining what the 'ce que' means in my example they are welcome.
    – Hasen
    Sep 20, 2017 at 15:11
  • 1
    @Hasen, to me, this is the exact same meaning concerning "ce que". Are you sure the problem is not about "ne s'attend à"?
    – lemon
    Sep 20, 2017 at 15:24
  • If it can help, a "word by word" English translation: "Nobody is expecting that you are an expert". Here "ce que" = "that".... "Nobody is expecting you as an expert" can be "personne ne vous attend en tant qu'expert".
    – lemon
    Sep 20, 2017 at 15:38

2 Answers 2


Just a quick reminder:

  • "un expert": nominal group ("an expert")

  • "vous êtes un expert": verbal group ("you are an expert")

After "Personne ne s'attend à" one doesn't expect a verbal group: what is expected is a COI ("Complément d'Objet Indirect") which has to be a substantive. It can be a nominal group:

Personne ne s'attend à sa propre mort.

Or an infinitive group:

Personne ne s'attend à trouver une solution.

Or a verbal group introduced by "ce que". In that case the verb becomes a subjonctive:

Personne ne s'attend à ce qu'il pleuve.

If you remove "ce que" the sentence doesn't mean anything else, it just becomes incorrect as you have a non-valid COI.

  • Ok...not sure what you're talking about. I didn't want to learn about how to teach grammar, I just need to know simply what its there for.
    – Hasen
    Sep 20, 2017 at 15:09
  • 1
    As a french, this answer seems pretty accurate. Because the question is a grammatical one. "Ce que" means nothing, it brings a meaning to differents parts of a sentence. You cannot say "Personne ne s'attend à vous êtes un expert", it's totally meaningless in french. Sep 20, 2017 at 15:31
  • "As a french, this answer seems pretty accurate." What does that mean? IN French? OK I get that its just wrong without it....it just doesn't help me much. I guess I'll get used to it with more listening over time then.
    – Hasen
    Sep 20, 2017 at 16:40
  • What does "the" mean in English? Can you give a definition of it? No, because it is just a grammatical tool. The same goes for "ce que": no proper meaning, just a grammatical tool. I explained when you had to use it, because that's what you need to know about it. Sep 21, 2017 at 8:07
  • 1
    If you think every word have an exact equivalent between French and English (or more generally between any two languages) you are doing a big mistake. Btw you didn't give a definition of "the": "le/la" are also meaningless syntaxic tools. You have to accept that "ce que" is one too because by trying to find a meaning where there is none you will just loose your time. Sep 22, 2017 at 9:22

Ce que is mandatory here. Removing it would lead to a very incorrect sentence:

Personne ne s'attend à vous soyez un expert.

When s'attendre à is directly followed by a verb, that verb must be at the infinitive, e.g.:

Personne ne s'attend à recevoir un expert.

A noun, pronoun or nominal complement can also follow s'attendre à like:

Personne ne s'attend à la venue d'un expert.

Personne ne s'attend à lui.

If you want to append a subordinate clause containing a conjugated verb, that clause needs to be introduced by a conjunction. With direct transitive verbs, that conjunction is commonly que, e.g.:

Personne ne souhaite que vous soyez un expert.

Tous attendent que vous soyez un expert.

With indirect transitive verbs, the prepositions de and à cannot be directly followed by que simply because de que or à que are forbidden combinations in French so a ce is inserted. You can think of this ce as a pronoun for the following clause but it is really part of the compound subordinate conjunction ce que.

Personne ne s'attend à ce que vous soyez un expert.

When the clause is omitted, the pronoun cela (or ça) replaces it:

Personne ne s'attend à cela.

Here are other examples following the same pattern:

Je me suis habitué à ce que vous soyez un expert.

Je ne m'attendais pas à ce que vous soyez un expert.

Je me réjouis de ce que vous soyez un expert.

The previous form is slightly outdated and formal and is usually simplified to:

Je me réjouis que vous soyez un expert.

but this simplification hasn't occurred yet with s'attendre à so:

Personne ne s'attend que vous soyez un expert.

is incorrect, although it might be heard in very relaxed spoken French.

Note that the following sentence, while looking like the previous ones using de ce que, is a different construction:

Je m'étonne de ce que vous dites.

Here, ce que is what was discussed in the question yours was wrongly suspected to be a duplicate of.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.